I played an inexpensive student saxophone from 5th grade all the way through college. It wasn’t until later in life that I was able to afford a “pro” level saxophone. It was a proud day when I was able to pick up my Rampone R1 Jazz alto for $3,500. Of course, I don’t recommend spending that much unless you are an advanced player with years under your belt.
The average cost of a saxophone varies depending on the skill level and type. The average cost of lower-quality “beginner” saxophones is between $300 and $500, while better-quality “intermediate” models will run between $600 and $1,000. Expect to pay $2,000 or more for a high-quality pro-level saxophone.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain the average cost of saxophones and why they cost this amount. I’ll also discuss the pros and cons of getting a cheaper saxophone and offer suggestions for good saxophones for beginners.
How Much Does a Saxophone Cost?
A saxophone varies greatly in price depending on the skill level, type of saxophone, material, and the saxophone’s history. You can buy saxophones for $250 to $5,000 or more. The average cost is approximately $2,000.
It’s difficult to sum up how much a saxophone costs because there are so many different factors that determine the cost of a saxophone. These factors include:
- The player’s skill level: Student model saxophones and beginner saxophones typically cost significantly less than a professional-level instrument.
- The type of saxophone: There are eight different types of saxophone you can purchase: sopranissimo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, and contrabass. The four most common are soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. The others are rarer and therefore more expensive.
- The instrument’s condition: Some used saxophones are less expensive outright, but they’ll require some maintenance to get into good playing condition. Used saxophones can also be more expensive than newer models if it is a rare instrument or has historical value.
- The brand: Some brands are well-known in the music community for being of high quality; therefore, their price tag can be higher than that of less-renowned brands. Some well-known and highly respected saxophone manufacturers include Henri Selmer Paris, Yanagisawa, and Keliwerth.
- The materials: Some manufacturers use better, higher-quality materials than others and must charge more to cover the cost of the materials. The material of the mouthpiece also influences the cost, as inexpensive saxophones feature plastic mouthpieces, and more expensive instruments usually have hard rubber or metal mouthpieces.
- The size: You can get a pocket saxophone for as little as $50. This miniature version of the larger instrument mimics the sound but cannot achieve musically what the larger saxophone can do.
With that being said, let’s take a look at various types of saxophones and the various price points you can expect:
Entry-level saxophones are typically less expensive than saxophones designed for intermediate and professional players. However, they can still be quite pricey, depending on the quality of the materials and the brand.
Beginner saxophones, which are also known as student saxophones, are usually non-ribbed and have larger plastic mouthpieces that make the instrument easier to play. The main priority with these types of saxophones is that the player masters the fundamentals of playing and not necessarily that the instrument sounds the best it can.
You can expect to pay $500 for a decent-quality beginner saxophone. Cheaper saxophones are available for $300 or less, but these aren’t as nice and likely won’t last as long. A used beginner saxophone is usually around $300-$400.
Intermediate saxophones are designed for players who have mastered the fundamentals of playing and are ready to take their musicality to the next level. Intermediate saxophones typically have a fuller sound, quicker response, and more key mechanisms that extend the range of the instrument beyond the basics.
Overall, the parts and the materials on an intermediate saxophone are better and longer-lasting than a beginner model, which improves the overall tone and the instrument’s longevity. With these improvements also comes a price increase.
New intermediate saxophones are usually between $1,300 and $2,700, depending on the type of saxophone you need. For a used model, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000.
Professional or performance-level saxophones are the cream of the crop. These instruments are for players who are fully committed and want to make saxophone playing their career. These instruments are brass but can have various finishes, depending on the consumer’s desire.
The fit, finish, and materials of a good professional saxophone are of the highest quality, which is not cheap. Therefore, you can expect to pay between $2,500 and $7,000 for a new professional-level saxophone. Used models are usually in the $2,000-$4,500 range.
Pocket saxophones are small instruments, usually less than 13 inches (33 cm) long, that have a two-octave range and mimic the sound of a larger tenor saxophone. Despite how they sound, these instruments resemble clarinets more than a saxophone.
Pocket saxophones, also known as “minis,” can only play in the key of C, and the two-octave scale is limiting, but it’s still a fun way for saxophone players to get their fix without lugging their larger instruments around. They’re also a more affordable alternative to the typical beginner saxophone for those who want to give the saxophone a try but aren’t sure if they’ll like it enough to commit to spending the money on a full-size instrument.
Because of their small size and limited ability, pocket saxophones are much cheaper than full-size saxophones. For a new model, the average cost is approximately $50, and you can get a used one for around $30.
The sopranissimo saxophone is the smallest type of saxophone and also one of the least common. It is one octave above the soprano saxophone and is pitched in B-flat. The sopranissimo is one of the hardest saxophones to play because of the extremely small mouthpiece.
These instruments are also more expensive than other saxophones because there is little market demand for them. The average cost of a sopranissimo sax is $3,400. A used model will likely be difficult to find, but you can expect to pay slightly less than the new price, around $3,000.
The second-smallest saxophone is the sopranino, which is in the key of E-flat and is an octave higher than an alto sax and a fourth higher than a soprano. This model is also uncommon, and composers rarely write for this instrument.
The average cost of a high-quality sopranino saxophone is approximately $3,600. A used model would likely sell for around $3,200.
The soprano saxophone is one of the more common saxophone types and is usually the highest-pitched saxophone that composers write for.
Entry-level soprano saxophones are approximately $1,000, but for a new, high-quality, intermediate sax, you should expect to spend closer to $3,500 to $4,000. You can get a used soprano saxophone for around $2,500-$3,000.
Alto saxophones are the most common type of saxophone, especially for beginners. It is pitched in E-flat and is slightly lower in pitch than the soprano but higher than the tenor.
Because alto saxophones are common for beginners, you’ll be able to find them at a wide range of prices. However, for a brand-new, intermediate-level saxophone, the average cost is around $2,000-$2,500. Newer models sell for around $1,500.
Tenor saxophones are slightly bigger than alto saxophones and produce a pleasing, rich, deep sound. Tenor saxophones are also cuvier than altos and are typically used by soloists because the tone isn’t too sharp or dark.
Because tenor saxophones are more popular, many different models are available at various price points. The average cost for a new tenor saxophone at the intermediate level is between $3,500 and $6,000. Used tenor saxophones of high quality are between $2,500 and $4,000.
Baritone saxophones are the lowest-pitch commonly used saxophones, and they’re pitched in E-flat. Bass, subcontrabass, and contrabass are lower in pitch, but those types of saxophones are far rarer than the baritone. These saxophones are commonly used in concert bands, jazz combos, and military bands.
Like all other saxophones, baritone saxophones vary in price depending on the player’s skill level. For new baritone saxophones, the average cost is around $3,000 to $7,000; for a used sax, the average cost is $2,500 to $6,000.
The bass saxophone is slightly lower in pitch than baritone saxophones, and they’re rarer and larger. Bass saxophones are pitched in B-flat and are typically used in orchestras, free jazz, and saxophone choirs.
These saxophones can be extremely expensive. The average cost of a new, high-quality bass saxophone is $8,000 to $20,000. Used models are likely to be more affordable, usually around $7,500 and $19,500.
Contrabass saxophones are extremely large and low in pitch, pitched in E-flat. The size makes this saxophone particularly challenging to play, as it is twice the length of a baritone saxophone and approximately 45 pounds (20 kilograms). These saxophones are typically only used in orchestras.
Contrabass saxophones are the most expensive type of saxophone. For a high-quality model, the average cost is between $15,000 and $30,000. Used models are between $13,000 and $25,000.
Electric saxophones are digital wind instruments that mimic the sound of a saxophone. The best part about these instruments is that they can mimic multiple types of saxophones, from soprano to baritone. It can also sound like a synthesizer, flute, violin, trumpet, or clarinet.
The average cost of a new electric saxophone is $400-$600. You can find used models for around $300.
The following table outlines all of the above costs:
|Type of Saxophone||Average Cost (New)||Average Cost (Used)|
|Bass||$8,000 to $20,000||$7,500 to $19,500|
|Contrabass||$15,000 to $30,000||$13,000 to $25,000|
Now that you understand what you can expect to pay for a saxophone, let’s discuss some other common inquiries about saxophone playing.
Is It Worth Getting a Cheap Saxophone?
It is worth getting a cheap saxophone for beginners because it can sound surprisingly good, allowing players to experiment and see if the instrument is for them before spending more money.
Saxophones can be extremely expensive, so if you’re just getting started, it might be beneficial to start with a cheaper model to ensure that this is something you’re dedicated to before shelling out more money on a higher-quality instrument.
Cheap saxophones use cheaper materials and have poor build quality, so they won’t last as long or sound as good as more expensive instruments, but some still sound relatively good and consistently play in tune. Cheap saxophones allow beginners to get a handle on the basics and upgrade to a better instrument later.
Best Saxophones for Beginners
If you’re just getting started playing saxophone, you’ll need a nice beginner sax to get you started. Here are my recommendations which are available on Amazon.com:
Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophone
If I were just starting out and had the money, this is the horn I would get.
Yamaha is a trusted brand in the music community, and their beginner instruments are high-quality and reasonably priced. The design and weight of this instrument make it extremely easy and comfortable to play, which is essential for those just getting started. One downside is that this sax is more expensive for a beginner model.
Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone
If you are on a budget and don’t want a used horn, a Jean Paul is a great option, and it isn’t that far off in quality from the bigger brand names.
This instrument’s keys are well-placed, making them easy to pay for beginners. The light weight also helps with playability, as it is only eleven pounds. I also like that it comes with a nickel-plated mouthpiece cap, neck strap, and ligature. One downside is that this instrument doesn’t have the best tone.
Saxophones come at various prices depending on the type, the player’s skillset, the materials used, and the brand. Saxophones range in price from $250 to more than $20,000, but the average for a high-quality, intermediate saxophone is approximately $2,000.
If you’re a beginner, it may be wise to purchase a cheap saxophone to see if you’re interested in learning the instrument before investing in a more expensive model.
For more, check out Do Animals Like Music? (And How They Are Affected by It).
Hey, I’m Jim and the author of this website. I have always been interested in survival, fishing, camping, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!